Bare-bones Hotel Lifting

This was requested by my closest buddy who recently moved back to California, to his new place in Pasadena (CURSE YOU NASA FOR TAKING HIM AWAY FROM ME!!!). While ideally, he would have a gym that allows chalk, has a deadlift/Olympic lifting platform, miles upon miles of power racks, and entire rooms dedicated to body parts (and does not allow hercules curls… but that is a personal vendetta), all he has access to is a setup that is reminiscent of those small hotel gyms – a rack of dumbbells and a cable machine.

Now, when I write programs for my friends, I tend to make things doggcrapp (DC) training-esque in that I focus on progressive lifting and basic free weights. They are not, afterall, bodybuilders or powerlifters, but rather general fitness people, with this particular friend enjoying boxing and drinks in his spare time. So, I don’t worry about hitting things from angles, getting overly complicated with intense stretching, rep schemes, complicated cues, and what not… All that’s really required is a basic progression on the basic lifts.

At least, that was the case when he had access to barbells…

The key with the program is to be progressive (with regards to either weight or reps) with every movement, a la DC training. Choose 2 movements per body part and alternate them.

Legs: Choose two movements for quads and hamstrings, each.

  • Goblet squats
  • Bodyweight squats – with these, you would increase the number of reps you do.
    • Regular style
    • Pistol
  • Walking lunges – hold dumbbells and/or increase number of steps
  • Bulgarian split squat – I love doing these like IFBB Pro John Meadows
  • Cable hamstring curls – these are alright…
  • Dumbbell hamstring curls – love these… body them up, and then lower the weight with a 2-4 count. One thing with these is to keep the hips off the bench and to point the toes for maximum contraction

Back: choose a vertical and horizontal movement.

  • Chins – various grips, Gironda sternum chins, rack chins, fat man rows, etc
    • Jason Wojo doing rack chins:
    • Fat man rows: 
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Away facing lat pulldowns – another one from the brilliance that is Mr. Meadows
  • Straight arm pullovers – pull with the elbows and keep the arms straight… GREAT movement if done correctly… one of my favorites to pump out at the end of a session. You can do these with either a rope or a straight bar or any other attachment really.
  • Dumbbell rows – one side at a time or both together or lying on a bench or or or or  XD
  • Cable rows
  • Rear delt flyes – you can do these with cables or dumbbells (head supported on a bench, body on bench, bent over w/o support, etc)
    • Example 1: 
  • Face pulls
  • Dumbbell shrugs
  • Overhead shrugs with dumbbells
  • Way bent over rows – cable or dumbbells. Justin Harris does it with a barbell here, but I’ve seen it done with dumbbells from old Milos Sarcev videos and the cable is a standard DC movement… Love these.


  • Push ups: stretch if possible
  • Dips
  • Dumbbell presses of all types
  • Dumbbell flyes
  • Cable flyes


  • Dumbbell presses overhead – do these like Reg Park. MUST DO MOVEMENT AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T CAUSE YOU PHYSICAL PAIN (outside of muscle pain). I like to clean each rep, but you can do these like the guy below. Either way… awesome awesome awesome movement.
  • Handstand push ups – I even like these as a rehab movement for elbows, shoulders, and scapula… good mid and lower trap involvement too.
  • Front raises
  • side laterals (with dumbbells or cable)
  • rear delts

Biceps: every mother fucker so fucking creative with curls, I won’t even bother. Just have a regular supinated movement, neutral grip movement (like hammer curls), and a pronated movement (like reverse curls).

Triceps: MY LOVE for triceps knows no bounds…

  • dumbbell neutral grip floor press
  • dumbbell rolling extensions
  • cable pressdowns
  • cable overhead extensions
  • one arm cable extensions
  • pronated kickbacks – squeeze hard on these
  • dips
    • bench dips
    • regular dips
  • Close grip push ups with feet elevated
  • bodyweight extensions – lovely finisher. Watch the video for the triset.

Anyways… as people can see, I get most of my inspiration from guys like Dante Trudel, John Meadows, Justin Harris, and Scott Stevenson (doing Fortitude Training myself… will do a review of that ebook and program soon…), though most of my love for the iron will revolve around powerlifting…

A sample program based on this approach would be the following:

Day ——— Bodypart ——— Week 1——— Week 2

Day 1:     Chest/ DB press     1 top set of 8      Beat week 1 w/reps or weight

Shoulders/ Reg Park press   1 top set of 6   Beat week 1 w/reps or weight

Back/ chins             1 top set of 15    Beat week 1 w/reps

Back/ rows                 1 top set of 8        Beat week 1 w/reps

Day 2:      Quads/ Bulg. Split squat  1 top set of 9/leg   ”  w/reps or weight

Hams/ dumbbell curl           1 top set of 10         ”

Biceps                              do something for some    ”

Triceps                           1 top set of 15                  ”

Day 3: repeat day 1 w/ different movements

Day 4: repeat day 2 w/ different movements

Now, by week 1 and week 2, I don’t mean to constrain you to a 7 day schedule. Honestly, you could maybe do 3 workouts a week, in which case you would pick up with Day 4 on the second week. Doesn’t really matter…

Anyways, hopeful, anybody that finds this will benefit! And… GET TO A GOOD GYM WHENEVER/IF gPOSSIBLE!


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